By Jim Walsh
Gilbert police and fire investigators have interviewed two juvenile suspects caught on video after a spectacular fire destroyed several buildings under construction in October at the Via Sorento condominiums, near Gilbert and Guadalupe roads.
Police located the two male teenagers a couple of weeks ago and interviewed them, said Sgt. Jesse Sanger, a police spokesman.
He said the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office requested some additional work by detectives, who are seeking charges and have submitted the case for review. The suspects have not been arrested pending a decision on whether there is sufficient evidence to charge them.
“The charges have been filed for review,” Sanger said. “They wanted the investigators to do some follow-up.”
Police did not release the names of the suspects, but Sanger said they are the same teens pictured in the video surveillance footage that was previously released to generate tips.
The large fire is estimated to have caused up to $10 million in property damage at the condominiums, which were being built by D.R Horton, a major home builder based in Fort Worth, Texas.
The blaze, which consumed eight buildings, was hot enough to char a nearby car and melt its tires.
After a painstaking investigation, which included a dog used by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to identify accelerants, authorities ruled the case an arson. They posted a $30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects.
About 150 firefighters from Gilbert, Mesa, Chandler and the Superstition Fire District battled the blaze on Oct. 15. Firefighters said the blaze spread quickly because the buildings were in the wooden framing stage.
Residents of a nearby complex also were evacuated because of high carbon monoxide readings in the area.
The Via Sorento fire was second in Gilbert this year at a large apartment complex under construction. The first one, the Civic Center fire, was on April 23. It was a much larger fire at a complex not far from Gilbert Town Hall, destroying 17 buildings.
Gary Hildebrandt, a Gilbert Fire Department spokesman, said an investigation eventually determined that the Civic Center fire was accidental. It was caused by a construction worker who was using a torch while installing some roofing.